The Rhetoric Chapter 21 pg. 286
The Golden Mean
“Aristotle saw wisdom in the person who avoids excess on either side. Moderate is best; virtue develops habits that seek to walk an intermediate path (286). Aristotle called this theory of virtue the golden mean. Within the framework of emotional proof, this idea “struck a responsive chord” (283) with me. As far as I am concerned, moderation and balance in all aspects of life, are the key to happiness, health and success. Think about all the diet programs that push portion control and moderate eating. This also brings to mind healthy relationships, where neither person is too dependent or co-dependent on the other. Workaholism is a disease just like alcoholism, and both are due to overconsumption of their drug of choice (work or alcohol). Extremists are on either side of the spectrum, but nowhere near the middle; thus there is no such thing as a “happy medium” for them. Their life scale is in black and white, and disregards gray. The gray area is the healthy balance in the middle of the two extremes. I enjoyed the suggestions that Aristotle gave for using the golden mean in other aspects of communication in our relationships. He suggests truthful statements as opposed to lies or brutal honesty. Notice how lies and brutal honesty are polar opposites, but truthful statements falls nicely in the middle. He also suggests self-disclosure over secrecy or soul-baring, and courage instead of cowardice or recklessness. I think these suggestions can be utilized not only in our everyday interactions with others, but also in our intimate interpersonal relationships. This “happy medium” and moderate way of life will strengthen our relationships with others. To honor Aristotle's love for metaphors I will close with one that sums up the golden mean. Too much of a good thing.